Spotlight on Pro Bono Mental Health Volunteer, Nancy Lee

0e2d0a17-a80b-4f41-8c64-78c2b9cb1d33In Spark the Change Colorado’s, formerly Metro Volunteers’ first year running the Pro Bono Mental Health Program we have served over 512 low income Coloradoans in the Denver area. Our therapists in Pueblo and Denver provided 4,104 hours of pro bono services worth $410,400. On average our volunteers provide over a full work day a month of pro bono services.

This month, we would like to highlight the work of one of our volunteers, Nancy Lee.

What would you like to share about yourself?
I’m a private practice psychotherapist in Aurora.  I was born in Seoul, South Korea.  I grew up in Chicago and moved to Denver in 2000.  I love Colorado because it’s a beautiful state with lots of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

What type of therapist are you? 
I’m an integrative, trauma-informed therapist.  I serve adults, mostly young adult to middle age.  I describe my specialty as anxiety and stress because those are relatable terms that span a range of issues and cultures.  I view myself as a relational, pragmatic, creative, and values-driven person.  That’s pretty much the way I approach therapy.  I mostly use evidence-based therapies like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  I’m in the process of learning a trauma therapy called Brainspotting.

What were you doing prior to counseling?
I used to work in nonprofit administration.  My passions are health, wellness, and education.  I’ve done a lot of volunteering in those areas, all the way up to the state level.  In addition, I was a peer support volunteer in a faith-based setting.

What made you interested in the field of mental health?
My interest began with improving my own mental health.  I experienced a lot of early childhood adversity.  I spent my first couple decades figuring out how to navigate the world and get healthy.  Mental health as a profession is awesome because we apply science and humanitarianism to benefit others in creative ways.

Are there any particular areas of interests or expertise that you have?
I don’t market myself as a multicultural counselor or a trauma counselor, but culture, identity, and toxic stress are things that come up a lot in my practice.  As such, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to be culturally proficient in the clinical setting.  I’m always working on one project or another to expand my impact beyond the therapy room.  Lately, I’ve been doing public speaking about parenting.  If we believe our kids are increasingly at-risk, then one piece of the puzzle is figuring out how to resource parents.

What has been one of the most valuable tools in your professional toolkit as a therapist?
Mindfulness paired with self-compassion.  The combination of the two has been life-changing for me.  I’ve seen it soften and shift the way clients relate to themselves.

What is your involvement in the Pro Bono Program?
I have one individual pro-bono client through my private practice.  In addition, I’m in the process of getting set up to provide behavioral healthcare for the Center for Immigrants.  One of the great things about this country is our volunteerism.  Volunteers do everything from relieve suffering to build houses.  It’s pretty profound when you think about it.  Volunteering has opened my eyes and expanded my horizons in ways that paid work cannot.  Volunteering can be a form of self-empowerment because we get to fix problems, break through limitations, and express our values.

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